Related Deities: May Queen, Stag Lord, Jack-in-the-Green, the Green Man
Related Herbs: Hawthorn, Honeysuckle, St. John’s Wort, Woodruff, Frankincense, Roses, Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, all flowers.
Related Stones: Quartz Crystal, Sunstone, Orange Calcite, Malachite
May Day: First celebrated by the Celts, Beltaine traditionaly begins at sunset on April 30th through May 1st at sunset as they figured their days from sundown to sundown. A fire and fertility festival, the word Beltaine comes from the Welsh words: Bel (name of the Welsh Sky God) and Tan (meaning fire). Combined, the words mean “fire in the sky,” an appropriate word for welcoming the Summer. Also, the powers of the fairies and elves are growing and will reach their peak at Midsummer.
By May the light has grown longer and everything is flowering. The virile young lord and fertile maiden celebrate the evident consummation of their relationship. As seen by the Stag Lord and May Queen, an old custom in which every year a boy and girl were trained to play the roles. The boy, in his role as Stag Lord would run with the deer. At some point the dominant buck of the herd would sense the intruder and the Stag Lord would have to over come him. He would return then victorious and unharmed to mate with the May Queen in symbolic consummation of the marriage of the God and Goddess.
It is a fire and fertility festival that celebrates the transformation from maiden to mother through the mystery of sexuality. Beltine marks the return of vitality, of passion and hopes consummated. A time to honor the Guardian of the Home.
Maypoles are common, the dancers moving around the maypole in a clockwisee motion, the direction of the Sun’s journey across the Earth. The pole would remain in the center of the village until replaced the following year and the old pole used to light the new Beltane fires. The fires representing the Sun’s lengthening time in the sky. Livestock would be driven between two bonfires during the festival to protect them from disease and ensure fertility for the following year. The frail and sick would also pass between the bonfires as in ancient times, fertility was a matter of life and death and the sick were seldom fruitful for prosperity of the community. It’s also common practice too for even couples to leap over the bonfire for fertility and luck.
Flowers and greenery symbolize the Goddess. The maypole, the God. Weaving and plaiting, the joining of two things to make a third is the spirit of Beltaine. Traditional colors of Beltaine are red and white, representing the blood from a woman when her purity is taken.